The “solopreneur lifestyle” has received a lot of attention in recent years. More and more overworked employees are heading out on their own and choosing to focus on projects they’re passionate about.
But the perfect Instagram photos – of people working in their pyjamas or sipping cinnamon mocha lattes – often hide a starker reality. Running your own business and achieving success as a solopreneur is hard work.
With freedom comes responsibility. And self-employed, small-scale entrepreneurs face a daily uphill battle. They have to manage more or less every aspect of their business by themselves, from marketing to book-keeping.
That’s why it’s vital for solopreneurs to improve their business processes wherever possible. And one area that’s usually ripe for efficiency gains is workflow automation. With the right technology, it’s possible to save hours of wasted time every day.
In this post, we’ll look at seven ways you can streamline your workflow, helping you save time, money, and peace of mind. [Gr]
Pick the Right Project Management App
Project management apps are incredibly popular nowadays. Companies like Trello, Basecamp, Asana, and Hubspot are practically household names.
But there’s a problem for solopreneurs. Most modern solutions are designed for SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) with multiple employees. They’ve not been created with individuals that have to manage multiple tasks on their own in mind.
That’s why it’s essential to opt for a project management app specifically tailored for freelancers and one-person businesses. These tools focus on the most important features – contracts, proposals, time-management, integrations, etc. – without any superfluous enterprise functionality.
Prioritize and Outsource
“Outsourcing” is a dirty word for many solopreneurs. Often, a big part of the reason that people decide to work for themselves is the ability to exercise complete control over their projects.
But outsourcing is essential for long-term success. There’s a fine line between taking creative ownership of a project and being a control freak.
As a solopreneur, it’s important to prioritize both routine and one-off tasks. Once you’re clear about which specific jobs require your unique skill-set, and which can probably be handed off to somebody else, you can focus your attention on what really matters.
It’s also likely that you can’t complete some tasks as well as experienced professionals. Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can outsource accordingly. And the quality of all your projects will increase.
It’s never been easier to find talented freelancers, virtual assistants, designers, coders, and more. Platforms like Upwork, Amazon Turk, and Freelancer.com make outsourcing a doddle.
Manage Appointments With an All-In-One Meeting Scheduler
Booking appointments, organizing meetings, and sending out notifications and reminders are all time-consuming tasks. But they’re also essential and difficult to outsource. Many solopreneurs spend multiple hours every day on routine scheduling jobs.
That’s why appointment apps are a must for solopreneurs. These simple tools automate more or less the whole scheduling process. Customers can book and pay for appointments via an online portal, and business associates can pick the best time to meet based on your availability. Everybody will receive automated reminders in the run-up to a meeting.
So how can you pick the best meeting scheduler for 2020? Opt for a solution that integrates and syncs with your existing time-management tools like Google Calendar, Gmail, Outlook, etc. Also ensure that any solution you pick supports video conferencing and multiple time-zones.
Automate Wherever Possible
Solopreneurs often think that automation is the domain of large enterprises with big software budgets. Technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, the reasoning goes, are beyond the budget of a solo business owner or freelancer.
But this thinking is flawed. Automation technologies are suitable for even the smallest businesses. And these tools can dramatically streamline workflows and processes.
One specific area that solopreneurs should take notice of is marketing automation. A whole range of affordable marketing automation solutions take care of tasks like local search optimization, email outreach, market research, and product feedback. What’s more, they’re easy-to-use and tailor to your unique needs.
Leverage the 80/20 Principle
The 80/20 principle stipulates that, in any given area, 20% of total input is usually responsible for 80% of overall output.
This applies to a variety of business areas. It’s likely, for example, that 80% of your profits are generated from 20% of your clients. And that you complete your most important work in short bursts throughout the day.
You can leverage the 80/20 principle to hone in on your most essential tasks. When you know which work is most important for your business, you can ensure that it’s prioritized. Looking at your schedule through the lens of the 80/20 principle also enables you to outsource non-essential and time-sapping jobs more effectively. [Gr]
Don’t Overdo It!
As a solopreneur, it’s easy to sideline self-care and relaxation time. But this is a colossal mistake. And not just from the perspective of the individual. Research shows that high levels of stress impact productivity and performance.
Time spent recuperating isn’t wasted. Build periods of relaxation into your working day, especially if you’re running a business or freelancing from home. Mobile meditation apps like Headspace can help a lot in this regard.
Working as a solopreneur is as challenging as it is rewarding. But with the right approach, it’s possible to reduce or even completely eliminate many common obstacles and challenges.
The right tools and strategies enable you to limit time spent on routine tasks, maximize your productivity, and do more of what’s important. And, fundamentally, that’s what every solopreneur is really seeking.
John Pearson is a serial entrepreneur and writer who is passionate about helping small businesses launch and grow. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.